We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t function as caps, allows younger players to realize more of their market value, makes service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy.
— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) February 4, 2022
Tanking is one of the biggest problems in the game. On September 8th with no COVID restrictions on attendance, the Orioles drew a paid crowd of 4,965. That is not actual butts in the seats because it does not factor in no-shows. That is how pathetic the numbers are and indicative of the erosion of their season ticket base. That is what happens when you tank for four consecutive years like the O’s have under the Angelos regime. In the three full seasons (eliminating the 60-game season of 2020) played since 2018, the Orioles have lost an average of 111-games per season and are killing their own product. That is what tanking does.
Of course, Max and I can agree to disagree on caps, and he makes no mention of the entire payment system where aging players enter free agency and are paid on past performance. That is similar to how executives are paid in big corporations too, but in big corporations — executives get fired for non-performance. If you liken a player to the best sales people in your company who work on commissions — the salespersons are paid on actual results. They make the most in a good year and less in a bad year. Scherzer is not the problem in baseball, as he is one of the best performers, but you can go through history of all of the bad contracts in baseball, and find most were just bad deals for the employer.
We agree with Scherzer on paying pre-arbitration-eligible players a higher salary based on performance, and finding a way to deter service time manipulation. This is all great stuff, but this is all going to cost baseball’s thirty ownership groups more money. What are the players willing to give up in order to stop tanking, service time manipulation, and more equitable pay to pre-arb players?
There is an ole saying that you have to give to get. So far, the players are asking for more, more, and more, and they don’t want to give up anything. Most of Scherzer’s suggestions are good for the game, but all of them will require baseball’s ownership groups to spend more of their money.
One of the most hotly debated subjects every off-season is when free agents fly the coop for more money. So far, nobody is talking about this as an issue in baseball’s CBA negotiations. In the NFL, you can franchise tag a player. In the NBA, there are max and super-max contracts based on performance to extend players. Steph Curry had no financial incentive to go anywhere else because no other team could pay him more than his current team so he signed an extension with his current team. In the MLB, top free agents leave their current teams most of the time. So it begs the question, why can’t MLB and the MLBPA see this as a problem that they can fix?
Once again, if the two sides can figure out a way to make the fans happier, that is what they need to do. Most fans just want to watch winning baseball, retain their star players, sit in better stadiums, pay less for food and beverages, have quicker games, and improved umpiring. Isn’t it all about making baseball fun again?